As we now enter a new and more relaxed lockdown phase and with instrument retail shops about to re-open, the general public are allowed to mix and gather in bigger groups, therefore, social events are inevitable. Events that will no doubt include street parties, karaoke evenings and delayed weddings where microphones will often be changing hands.
Instrument cleaning and considerations of hygiene should of course always be a regular process.
All instruments benefit from a thorough clean after being played, from wiping guitar strings down with a lint free cloth and fingerboard conditioner/string cleaner to cleaning out the moisture from brass and woodwind instruments.
Schools and instrument rental companies already have information and guidelines that must be followed in detail when using and returning hired equipment. Retail music shops also have a duty to follow the Government’s guidelines to make sure instruments are thoroughly sanitised and cleansed on a regular basis, especially each time merchandise is handled.
We’ve learnt how the Covid-19 virus can stay active on most surfaces, including cork, plastic, wood and metal for days.
You strum guitar strings, blow a trumpet, dampen cymbals, adjust the mic then subconsciously, without thinking, rub your eyes and mouth, it is imperative then that hygiene is uppermost and rules observed.
Brass and woodwind instruments are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria and are never really void of saliva. Thorough and regular cleaning is required after disinfection and sterilisation. It’s a frightening thought that after being exposed to room air, let alone a group of musicians, an instrument is no longer considered sterile.
Flutes, clarinets, oboes, french horns, trumpets, trombones, saxophones all have a mouthpiece and many with reeds that harbour large quantities of bacteria along with valves, slides, finger buttons and water keys, all of which are a non-porous surface where germs can live longer if not regularly cleaned.
With over 300 products in its catalogue, French company BG are one of the world’s biggest suppliers of brass and woodwind accessories and instrument cleaning products ensuring equipment is in first class working order.
BG high quality products include bamboo and silk, lint-free micro-fibre, high absorption cleaning cloths, swabs and pad dryers, also available as separate items or in combo packs. Offered in a number of shapes and sizes, BG micro-fibre cloths are designed for maximum efficiency when drawn through the bodies, necks and mouthpieces of all popular wind or brass instruments. They’re also machine washable, lasting up to 5 years.
Microphones of course are particularly vulnerable and should never be shared. With Lizard Spit’s Microphone Sanitiser from the company’s large range of non-toxic, eco-friendly instrument cleaning products all mics can easily be thoroughly sanitised after every use. Available in a handy 4oz spray bottle, Lizard Spit’s Microphone Sanitiser also contains a drying agent to protect the microphone diaphragm, whilst cutting through performance grime and killing 99% of harmful bacteria and germs.
Whilst you may not be the sweatiest player in the band (or are you? ask the others), guitar fingerboards, frets, saddles, bridges and control knobs are home for all sorts of grungy bugs to breed and eat guitar hardware for breakfast, whilst also attacking the pickup windings and dissolving gold plating.
It goes without saying that mandatory cleaning of all instruments including acoustic, bass and electric guitars is paramount in the battle against all type of germs. We often change strings and wipe them down after a gig, satisfied in the past that we’ve undertaken the necessary steps to keep our beloved instruments in tiptop condition within looks, playability and hygiene.
Again, we must not share equipment or effect pedals, but we can ensure their cleanliness by using one of the many Eco-Friendly Lizard Spit products available to buy separately or in packs, specifically designed for stringed instruments and drums to remove grimy residue.
Family owned business Ultra-Pure Oils are also highly respected for their Care Sets and Lubricants amongst professional and semi professional brass and woodwind musicians, where again, the essentials are supplied to keep wind instruments scrupulously clean.
Micro-fibre cloths, pads and polishers take care of the outside, while brushes for mouth-pieces and flexible cleaning snakes look after the inside to prevent residue build-up. A wide range of Ultra Pure’s own blend of custom synthetic odourless oils and lubes are the perfect lubricant for valves, sliders, linkages and bearings, ensuring all moving parts run friction free.
Most musicians have been creative during lockdown and have realised the importance of adhering to the Covid-19 rules to stay safe and to stick to the new hygiene rules. Lockdown is gradually reducing but people still need to stay alert and not take things like sharing their instruments and equipment for granted.
Hopefully once this lockdown is over entirely, then we will have it engraved within our daily lives to keep up the good work of cleansing and sanitising our valuable possessions.
Meantime, when your pal returns your much-loved saxophone he’s been playing during lockdown…..you now know what to do!
Available from JHS – Call the Sales Office on 0113 286 6411